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The Toy Family

The app that allows users to easily sell, buy and donate toys with a meaningful focus on supporting charity.

My Role

Research / Synthesis / Ideation

Sketching / Hi-fi Prototype


User Research / Affinity mapping
/ Journey Map / Usability test
Competitive analysis / Feature prioritisation Visual design

Team and Duration

3 UX consultants
2 week sprint


Case study presentation
and Hi-fi App prototype


The Smith Family
(GA Project) July 2020


Figma / Miro

The idea

The project started with the idea that was inspired by a comment made by a friend who's a mom:

" I wonder if there is a way to swap unused toys, especially in times of lockdown when kids are home, and they often get bored and want new things to play with. "

Assuming that this is a general need among parents, we thought that we could create an app to allow parents to swap toys with other people, so they could easily do something about the unused toys lying around their place, and their children can get to play with something new without spending money.

There's an opportunity

If you have children or know someone who's a parent, you might be familiar with the problem parents face with the big quantity of toys their children have and how they are affected economically.


Doing internet research we found out more about the spending habits on toys, and we 
noticed that there are some shocking facts about it, which shows a big opportunity to develop a product to help parents dealing with this issue.

According to a study on global toy market average spend from 2015, Australia is leading the list, ahead of UK, USA, Japan.

A recent study has found Australian parents could save $1,000 a month if they stop buying unnecessary toys for their children.

Gumtree estimates that, for the first time, more than 100 million items exchanged hands through the second-hand economy. Of 60 per cent of Australians who sold second-hand items, 83 percent did so online.

Image by Vanessa Bucceri

Let's talk to the parents

First step was to interview 14 parents with the following goal:

Understand what parents do with the  unused toys lying around their homes 

Key findings

After synthesising all the insights, we built an affinity map that shows some consistent actions parents choose to take when dealing with the toys.

Parents offer unused toys to friends and family first

Every interviewee chose to offer to a friend or family first because it's the easiest way to give a toy away.

They take toys to a charity shop or donation bins

The majority of the interviewees would take the unused toys to a Charity Shop or Donation Bins.

Some list the toy online for free

Some people find it easier to post it on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree and have someone to pick-up the toy even if they are not making any money out of it.

They list expensive toys online

Many people have sold toys that are more expensive to try to recover some of its cost.

They bought used toys before

Many parents have bought second hand toys online and from some charitable institutions as well.


With the research results, we identified two personas. The main difference between them is that Kanika is very practical, and she wants to give the toys away with minimum effort. While Alex wants to make sure that the toy will be used by whoever is taking the toy, even if the toy is going to charity.


Kanika Shridhar
The busy declutterer




" I just want to get rid of the toys with minimum effort "


Lives in a 2 BHk apartment, with her husband and 3 year old son. Her son is very fond of toys but she gets frustrated because their house is full of toys and they want to declutter it.


  • Giving away with minimum effort and time.

  • Get expensive toys for a good price.

  • Use FB Marketplace or Gumtree to list an unwanted toy online for free, and people simply come to pick up the item.


  • Have to go or schedule to give away toys to charity.

  • No dedicated platform for giving away/exchanging.

  • When buying, concern about quality and condition of 2nd hand toys.


Alex Grant
The generous thrifter

" I want to make sure I know where the toys are going and if it will be used "



Software Engineer


Alex and his wife have two kids, a two-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son. They usually try to donate their toys to charity but their concern is they want to know whether the toys are being used or not.


  • Wants to give the toy a "new home".

  • Give to charity as second option.

  • Wants to know where the toy is going and be sure it's going to be used.

  • Would like to exchange toys as its like donating and buying a toy at the same time.


  • Don't know exactly what charities do with the toys.

  • When buying second hand, the categorisation on online platforms can be confusing.

  • Lack of pick-up/delivery service when buying/ selling second hand.

Journey map

Both personas start the journey realising that have toy that are not being used, and they offer it to friends. After that they take two different directions. Kanika opts to use an online marketplace to list the toy for free and get someone interested in the toy to go pick it up, while Alex prefers to take the toy to a charity shop. Going through each users' behaviour throughout the different stages helped to identify exactly where pain points and opportunities are.

Taking a new direction

After identifying pain points and opportunities, we decided that instead of having an app that only offers a system to swap toys, we had to create a dedicated online platform that allow users to easily sell, buy or donate toys with a meaningful focus on charity.

The business partner

One of the main takeaways from the research was the fact that every interviewee mentioned a charity institution when it comes to giving a toy away. With that in mind, we decided that The Smith Family is the perfect business partner for this project as it is an institution that supports disadvantaged children and this app can be a great way to drive donations and increase its revenue. The Toy Family is born.




This matrix shows how The Smith Family can compare its services with other charities, how they are selling toys differently. The Toy Family app is taking The Smith Family into a new territory, which is the online marketplace world. Also, now we need to compare with the existing marketplace platforms and find opportunities to address our users needs.

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Main takeaways

No charities currently offer an effective online platform for 2nd hand toys.

Current marketplaces
lack focus and
specificity for toys. 

Image by Xavi Cabrera

The design goal

Create an app that help users to buy, sell or donate toys with minimum effort while supporting charity.

Not just that, we have to make its features relevant and effective in order to address users needs and frustrations.

Feature prioritisation

Based on what we learned from users and competitor analysis, we started ideating functionalities to features in the platform.

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Raise funds for charity from sales

How does it work?

The Smith Family will always retain a percentage of the money paid by the buyer.


This percentage is chosen by the seller when listing the toy.

If someone just wants to get rid of a toy and is not interested in the money, he/she has the option to dedicate 100% of the price to the charity.

Smart categorisation using Google Lens technology

How does it work?

Google Lens is an image recognition technology developed by Google, designed to bring up relevant information related to objects it identifies using visual analysis based on a neural network.

When the seller is taking a photo of the item that has been listed, this technology will automatically search for the most accurate information and category for the item.

Pickup service when donating toys to charity

How does it work?

The user gathers enough toys for a minimum donation. Then he/she requests a donation bag through the app.

The Smith Family will send a donation bag 
to his/her address.

The user puts the toys in the bag and place outside the property on the day specified on the bag. Then a representative will come to pick up the bag on that day.

Follow-up service for donations

How does it work?

Every time the user wants to donate a toy directly to charity through the pick up service, he/she has the option to receive a follow-up email with information about whose life's has been affected through their donation, so they can be assured that someone is really getting benefit out of it.


We know that we need to design an online marketplace platform, so we did a design studio workshop to help us on visualising our main solutions. See below some challenges we faced.

How do we raise funds from sales?

Listing process
Design an intuitive interface to give the option to choose the portion of the price that is going to charity

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Screen Shot 2020-08-10 at 2.31.44 pm.png

How do we improve categorisation?

Listing process
Define wich categories are relevant for a toy specific app.

Screen Shot 2020-08-10 at 2.31.44 pm.png
Screen Shot 2020-08-10 at 2.31.44 pm.png

How do we explain the follow-up service for donations

Donate toy to charity
Make clear users understand the service with minimum words. Copywriting had a big role in this one.

Screen Shot 2020-08-10 at 2.31.44 pm.png


First iteration

We conducted usability test with 5 different people. The overall goal was to get an idea of the usability of the app and how intuitive it was for the users. We wanted to see if they could see if they could understand the different functionalities and services of the app, and how they would react to it.

Home page

Usability test feedback


Tabs system confused users

Some users had the impression that the content on the page was separated from its tab. We figured that it was due to the round corner.


Colour issue

We got warned about the red colour on the bottom bar and how this colour could be associated with something negative, although is part of The Smith Family colour palette.

Home ite 1.png



Donate it 1.png



Donate page

This page created a lot of confusing for the users. It wasn't clear for them what they could do here.

Usability test feedback


Listing a toy for free in the
Donate section was confusing

We assumed that we could classify as a donation when a user wants to list a toy for free, but the word "donate" is really associated with charity so users thought that the toy was going to charity.


Pickup service was hard to find

It wasn't clear that this was a pickup service. Users thought that they would still have to physically take the toy to the charity shop.


After addressing user's issues and insights from the first iteration, our latest version of the prototype got tested by two people, and they managed to understand and finish the two tasks that were given.

Tasks and goals

List a toy

Test if users notice the Smart Categorisation.

Donate toy to charity

Test if users notice that there is a pickup service.

Buy a toy

Test the intuitiveness when setting the percentage of the price for charity

Selling a toy

The tasks successfully achieved the goal and none of the users mentioned the issues we heard on the first iteration.

They also noticed how the Smart Categorisation helped them find an accurate category for the item to be listed.

As part of the listing process, it was clear for the users that they could choose the percentage of the price that is going directly to charity. Also, they noticed that they set 100% of the price to go to charity, in case they are not interested in the money.


We learnt from previous feedbacks that the word Donate is very associated to charity, so for the second iteration, every feature in the Donate page is about donating a toy to charity. So when someone chooses to list a toy with 100% of the price going to charity, they can do it in the Sell section.

It was much easier to understand the pickup service. After reading the description copy, every user managed to finish the task.

Buy a toy

Overall this was the task was the easiest one, as most users are used to the process of search and shopping online.


As this is a dedicated toy marketplace, the app provides a toy specific category list to allow users to refine their search with more accuracy. So far, we couldn't test the efficiency of it, so that's something to consider for future tests and iterations.

How did we deliver the prioritised features into the design

Raise funds for charity from sales

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Smart categorisation using Google Lens technology

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Pickup service when donating toys to charity

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Follow-up service for donations

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At the end of the project users felt like they could use the app  sell, buy and donate their second toys. After the second iteration, the overall usability was more intuitive and the unique features were self-explanatory. There's always room from improvements but the overall goal for the design was achieved.

Next steps

More testing

Make sure that users understand and find useful every feature and service provided in the app.

Develop the
swap feature

The swap feature ended up not being the priority but it is still part of the scope for the future.

Improve the communication between buyers and sellers

Understand more about the dynamics between buyers and sellers online and how to design for them

Show how much of the price is going to charity

As part of the feedback we got on our last iteration. The user thought that it would be good to be able to see how much of the price is going to charity when buying a toy.

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